How To Move On After Ending Your Situationship

The culture has developed a range of terms to describe the pitfalls of modern dating: ghosting, AKA disappearing; Caspering, as in friendly ghosting; and a newer term, coined by Tracy Moore of Mel Magazine, mosting. Mosting is approaching a new relationship with enthusiasm and effort, then withdrawing unexpectedly. Mel Magazine explains this phenomenon as a likely result of a person idealizing their date without fully assessing how they feel about moving forward with the relationship. They may make promises they can't keep, prematurely assure their date that they're in it for the long haul, or otherwise mislead the other person with over-the-top romantic gestures and little follow-through.

The New York Times Modern Love column has also ruminated on what it means when a hookup is super flattering but doesn't mean what they say. Or they meant it in the moment, but don't let their date know when their mind changes. In the case of mosters, they tend to have avoidant tendencies and leave the undefined dating situation — or situationship — quickly after their partner matches their sentiments. This is when mosters turn into ghosters. And it isn't to be confused with "breadcrumbing" — dropping messages occasionally to keep someone on hold for whenever they feel like dating them, per Cosmopolitan.

Needless to say, in today's dating culture it's painfully easy to back off from a situationship, especially with seemingly infinite options available just swipes away. However, learning to heal from dating disappointments can be a vital factor in your long-term romantic success. 

What makes situationship breakups so hard?

The Huffington Post describes mosting as a dynamic that often includes "love bombing," or showering a partner with affection before quickly withdrawing it. The outlet's go-to dating coach, Neely Steinburg, explained mosting as she's seen it in dating. "I've had clients tell me stories where guys have really come on strong in the beginning and then all of sudden disappeared." She argues that this doesn't necessarily happen out of nowhere, since the culprit may have seemed hyper-interested in the relationship too quickly. "There are usually yellow flags, if not red flags, that perhaps they chose not to notice," she shared. "It's almost a false sense of intimacy that people want to believe in so they ignore the quick pace of things."

What's the most confusing part of a dissolving situationship? Amy Chan, the founder of Renew Breakup Bootcamp — a mentorship program, masterclass, and book — told Byrdie that "there is no start or end." She explained that in these relationships "you're constantly in-between. There is no container, and there are no rules."

If the emotional rollercoaster of a relationship is the only feeling of connection you've known with someone, you may continue to accept less-than-ideal treatment from that partner. "A lot of people say they want to move on, but they don't," Chan argued. This is especially difficult to correct when there are no rules or codes of conduct the partners expect each other to follow. And common respect should be, but isn't always, a given.

Moving on may mean moving through

Without structure, a relationship can drift between friends and strangers, while still leaving love on the table. This feeling of possibility can be addicting, according to Byrdie. And when the unavailable party begins pulling away, you can experience withdrawal-like feelings. 

Becoming attached to someone is not a point of shame, but it can become toxic when you've received only subpar treatment in the situationship. Amy Chan told the outlet that it becomes difficult to move forward while the possibility of a relationship still hangs in the air. She told readers that folks may "hang on to the pain, the hope, anything they can to stay connected to that person." 

So, how do we let go? The dating world can feel like a minefield, but getting past a failed situationship can help you realize what you want in the future — whether that's clearer communication, agreed terms for your relationship, or compatible commitment needs.

Ultimately, putting yourself out there may require reeling yourself back in when things don't work out. And, while burying your feelings may feel safer, it's more damaging in the long term. Byrdie emphasizes the importance of honoring your feelings and being brave enough to admit that you cared in the first place. So, let yourself feel the hurt — it will help move you toward your next best thing.